Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 49 Number 1, 2012
   Pages 7 — 22

Abstract — Dynamic stiffness and transmissibility of commercially available wheelchair cushions using a laboratory test method

Yasmin Garcia-Mendez, BS;1 Jonathan L. Pearlman, PhD;1–2* Rory A. Cooper, PhD;1–3 Michael L. Boninger, MD1–3
1Human Engineering Research Laboratories and Department of Rehabilitation Science and Technology, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA; 2Department of Veterans Affairs Rehabilitation Research and Development Service, Center of Excellence in Wheelchairs and Related Technology, Pittsburgh, PA; 3Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and Department of Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, PA

Abstract–Evidence suggests that wheelchair (WC) users are exposed to unhealthy levels of vibration during WC use. Health risks associated with vibration exposure include vertebral disc degeneration and back pain, which may consequently decrease the function and independence of WC users. Some evidence suggests that the cushions used in WCs may amplify vibrations, although conclusive evidence has not been presented in the literature. This study evaluated and compared the transmissibility of commercially available WC cushions with two laboratory test methods: (1) direct measurement of transmissibility while human subjects propelled a WC over a road course with different cushions and (2) characterization of cushions with a material testing system (MTS) combined with mathematical models of the apparent mass of the human body. Results showed that although dynamic characterization of WC cushions is possible with an MTS, the results did not correlate well with the transmissibility obtained in the WC road course. Significant differences were found for transmissibility among the cushions tested, with the air-based cushions having lower transmissibility than the foam- or gel-based cushions.

Key words: dynamic stiffness, low back pain, manual wheelchair users, mathematical model, neck pain, transmissibility, vibration dose value, wheelchair, wheelchair cushions, whole-body vibration.

View HTML  ¦  View PDF  ¦  Contents Vol. 49, No. 1
This article and any supplementary material should be cited as follows:
Garcia-Mendez Y, Pearlman JL, Cooper RA, Boninger ML. Dynamic stiffness and transmissibility of commercially available wheelchair cushions using a laboratory test method. J Rehabil Res Dev. 2012;49(1):7–22.
http://dx.doi.org/10.1682/JRRD.2011.02.0023
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Last Reviewed or Updated  Wednesday, February 15, 2012 2:46 PM

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